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Art Licensing by artist Joan Beiriger: I'm happy to share art licensing info but please
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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Art Licensing Tip: Increase Art Size and Still Have Good Resolution

The article "Art Licensing Tip: Creating the Correct Art Size" discusses the loss of resolution if a painting is enlarged too much and recommends creating larger art. But what was not discussed is what can an artist do if she/he has already created small paintings and needs to extensively enlarge them. Is it still possible to have good resolution? Also not discussed was WHY a painting that was enlarged 2-1/3 times in Adobe Photoshop had good resolution. If it was enlarged in other pixel based software it probably would look jaggy. Does Photoshop do something magical?

Yep, Photoshop automatically uses a method called Bicubic Smoother when images are enlarged. By using an interpolation method, it resamples, adds pixels, and assigns color values to the new pixels based on the existing pixels color values in the image. Bicubic Smoother is the default method in replicating pixels but other methods can be selected which MAY give better results depending upon the image. These methods are called Nearest Neighbor, Bilinear, Bicubic, Bicubic Sharper. They can be selected in the pull down at the bottom of the Image / Image Size window in Photoshop. Find out more about these methods in the Photoshop Help menu.

So can small paintings that are enlarged still have good enough resolution to be used on products? Well Photoshops Bicubic Smoother method does a pretty good job up to a point but most likely not good enough if the paintings are extremely enlarged. For instance, if images where created for the standard greeting card 5 by 7 inch size and enlarged in Photoshop to the standard flag size of 28 by 40 inch (5-2/3 times) the edges of the art elements/icons in the image would most likely have a blurry halo. However, there is a software Plugin that can be used with Photoshop called Genuine Fractals 6 (recommended by artist Andy Mathis) by onOne Software that does a better job at replacing pixels than Photoshop's Bicubic Smoother. Genuine Fractals 6 Plugin claims that it can enlarge a picture 1000 percent without the loss of sharpness, detail, and without edge halos. It considers itself the industry standard for image resizing and according to reviews in computer magazines it is correct. When checking out comparison examples between Photoshop and Genuine Fractals 6 on One Software website, I was suitably impressed with the results by using it. The software costs $159.95 but it is well worth the price if you need to enlarge images beyond the capability of what Photoshop alone can produce. By the way, Genuine Fractals 6 has other useful features such as Gallery Wrap (professional version), Tiling, batch processing, etc.

Hmm, that brings up a question. If Genuine Fractuals 6 Plugin can enlarge small images and still have good resolution (assuming that the images were originally high resolution), can this software do a good job on enlarging low resolution images and also increase the resolution? If it can, then low resolution images on the internet are REALLY at risk on being illegally lifted and used for products and stock art. I do not yet own Genuine Fractual so that I could test it but it is worrisome.

I welcome any comments. Please click on "comments" in order to write your comment.


  1. Best thing to do is get a good scanner and scan in at a higher resolution. Clean up and scale down.

  2. Thank you, Joan. That is invaluable information!